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Datti won't debate with you, bring your preferred candidates - LP replies Soyinka

The Labour Party said there was no political basis for Datti to engage the Nobel Laureate in a debate.

Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka and Labour Party vice presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed.

The respected playwright had challenged Datti to a one-on-one debate on live television over his controversial views regarding the outcome of the presidential election.

The Labour Party running mate created a national hoopla when he confidently said during a March 22 interview on Channels Television programme, 'Politics Today,' that swearing in the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on May 29, will mark the end of democracy in Nigeria.

Datti also called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) not to swear in Tinubu whom the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared as the winner of the February 25, presidential election.

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All the efforts of the show anchor to caution the 53-year-old politician fell on deaf ears as he claimed that "Nigeria has no president-elect" and that issuing a certificate of return to Tinubu was against the constitution.

Reacting to Datti's controversial stand, Soyinka described the remarks as a “kind of do-or-die attitude and provocation” that goes contrary to democratic disposition.

The Nobel Laureate also accused Datti of using "fascist language," adding that his statement is an attempt to dictate to the supreme arbiter of the nation.”

But, in a statement issued by the Obi-Datti Media Office on Saturday, April 8, 2023, the Labour Party vice-presidential candidate asked Soyinka to bring forward his preferred candidates to debate him.

He explained his decision to reject the celebrated writer's challenge was not a sign of cowardice but of cultural and political reasons.

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He further stated that one of the reasons he would not engage Soyinka in a debate is that he was not on any of the opposing ballots in the election.

The statement read: "Like many Nigerians we are bewildered by the late hour intervention of our respected Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka in issues around the flawed 2023 elections.

"Where was he all this while? One of those who should ordinarily and rightfully be honoured as the conscience of the nation, Prof. Soyinka is now criminalising dissent and in fact weighing in on the side of fraud and injustice! We state therefore that the vice-presidential candidate of Labour Party, Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed cannot take up Prof. Soyinka’s offer of a public debate, not out of cowardice, but for cultural and political reasons.

"Culturally it’s just not decent, their age and accomplishment gaps taken into account, for Datti to sit opposite the 88 year-old global icon and point out his folly to his face, even if the old man called for it. And politically there is no basis for such a challenge in that Prof. is not on any of the opposite ballots.

"If however he can use his influence to drag his preferred candidates, who resisted debates throughout the campaign, to the studio this second, Datti says he is more than willing to take them on. Signed: Obi-Datti Media Office."

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